A Cel­e­bra­tion Two Decades in the Mak­ing

International Artist - - The Art Of The Portrait - By Krys­tle Strick­lin

It is that time of year again to try to re­cap all of the in­cred­i­ble events and ex­pe­ri­ences of the Por­trait So­ci­ety’s an­nual The Art of the Por­trait con­fer­ence, which took place this year April 19 to 22 at the Hy­att Re­gency just out­side Wash­ing­ton, D.c.—where it all be­gan 20 years ago at the very first con­fer­ence! To cel­e­brate this ex­tra­or­di­nary mile­stone, nearly 1,000 artists from around the world came to­gether for a week­end of learn­ing and shar­ing, through un­for­get­table en­coun­ters and last­ing ex­pe­ri­ences.


With a jam­packed four-day con­fer­ence, it’s im­pos­si­ble to re­count all of the amaz­ing demon­stra­tions, work­shops and pan­els that oc­curred over the course of the week­end, but here are a few of the most-talked-about high­lights. Open­ing night on Thurs­day be­gan with the crowd-pleas­ing Face Off event, where 18 artists painted si­mul­ta­ne­ously in groups of three. This year our par­tic­i­pat­ing artists were Anna Rose

Bain, Wende Ca­po­rale, Ju­dith Car­ducci, Rick Casali, Casey Childs, Michelle Du­n­away, Rose Frantzen, James Gur­ney, Jef­frey Hein, Quang Ho, David Kas­san, Daniel Keys, Ricky Mu­jica, Mario Robin­son, Mary Sauer, Adri­enne Stein,

Jen­nifer Welty and El­iz­a­beth Zanzinger. In keep­ing with one of our new tra­di­tions, we asked fel­low artists Linda Bran­don, Joseph Daily, Vir­gil El­liott, Liz Lind­strom, Michael Mentler and Howard Lyon to take a turn on the other side of the easel and sit as mod­els for the event. There is a long his­tory of artists paint­ing artists, and we are de­lighted to be a part of that his­toric prac­tice. Thurs­day is also the best day to check out the

Ex­hibit Hall where our ded­i­cated ven­dors are there to an­swer any and all ques­tions about your fa­vorite prod­ucts and ser­vices.

On Fri­day morn­ing, af­ter a rous­ing wel­come from chair­man Ed Jonas, artist James Gur­ney took to the main stage for a demon­stra­tion of his unique per­spec­tive on vis­ual per­cep­tion, com­mu­ni­ca­tion and tonal de­sign. Next up were

Anna Rose Bain and Quang Ho shar­ing the stage, as well as their dif­fer­ing ap­proaches to the alla prima por­trait. Af­ter lunch, at­ten­dees scat­tered off to the first set of break­out ses­sions where they choose from six dif­fer­ent pan­els or work­shops on top­ics rang­ing from Build­ing a Rep­u­ta­tion in the 21st Cen­tury, Us­ing Photography as a Tool, Un­der­stand­ing Color with Daniel Greene, or a unique dis­cus­sion on the value of record­ing dreams, with artist Les­lie

Adams on her project Hand­writ­ten Dreams. And, Fri­day night ended with my per­sonal fa­vorite of the week­end—the 6 x 9 Mys­tery Art Sale where at­ten­dees have a chance to pur­chase small works by noted artists. While it is highly en­ter­tain­ing to watch ev­ery­one scram­bling to buy these beau­ti­ful lit­tle paint­ings, in truth, I love this event be­cause each work is so gen­er­ously do­nated by past fac­ulty mem­bers and award win­ners, and the pro­ceeds from the sale go to­ward our schol­ar­ship pro­gram to help emerg­ing artists at­tend the con­fer­ence for free.

Satur­day morn­ing started early with the Ce­cilia Beaux Fo­rum’s panel fea­tur­ing Anna

Rose Bain, Wende Ca­po­rale, Ju­dith Car­ducci, Mary Sauer and Dawn Whitelaw. This Q&A ses­sion about es­tab­lish­ing and man­ag­ing your art ca­reer was stand­ing room only, with each of these re­mark­able fe­male artists of­fer­ing their prac­ti­cal ad­vice, coun­sel and en­cour­age­ment. Next on the main stage, three leg­ends— Daniel Greene, Everett Ray­mond Kin­stler and Bur­ton Sil­ver­man— came to­gether to share the wis­dom of their ex­pe­ri­ences and how they con­tinue to look to the fu­ture. That morn­ing also in­cluded an­other set of break­out ses­sions, fea­tur­ing pan­els and demon­stra­tions by Rob Lib­er­ace, Mary Whyte, Rick Casali, Jef­frey Hein, Daniel Ger­hartz, Quang Ho, Dawn Whitelaw, Rose Frantzen and David Kas­san. Af­ter lunch, noted au­thor James Head shared some fas­ci­nat­ing sto­ries and im­ages about the leg­endary il­lus­tra­tor and por­traitist Howard Chan­dler Christy, and Daniel Ger­hartz re­turned to the main stage for an en­gag­ing demon­stra­tion where he fo­cused on his ap­proach to build­ing form and con­vey­ing emo­tion.


The Satur­day evening Gala Ban­quet is for many the high­light of the week­end. It’s hard to say ex­actly what makes the night so mag­i­cal— per­haps it’s the rich food and drink, or the an­tic­i­pa­tion of the awards be­ing an­nounced, or sim­ply the ex­cite­ment of fi­nally re­mov­ing those paint-stained clothes and see­ing your friends and fa­vorite artists all dressed to im­press. This year, a cham­pagne toast added to the night’s cel­e­bra­tion and eased our wait to hear the re­sults of the In­ter­na­tional Por­trait Com­pe­ti­tion. With a record num­ber of en­tries, 24 tal­ented fi­nal­ists were selected to show­case their work at the con­fer­ence and com­pete for the Draper Grand Prize, which this year in­cluded a $20,000 cash prize in honor of our 20th year. This year, that cov­eted prize was awarded to Daniel Keys for his stun­ning work ti­tled In­no­cence. Fi­nally, an honor­ing of our new­est Sig­na­ture Sta­tus mem­bers and a thought­ful key­note ad­dress by Richard Or­mond, rounded out the of­fi­cial end of the ban­quet, though I have it on good au­thor­ity that the cel­e­bra­tion con­tin­ued well into the night!

The last day of the con­fer­ence is bit­ter­sweet for most, as we all pre­pare to say good­bye and get back to our reg­u­lar, al­beit some­what less ex­cit­ing

sched­ules. This year, Paul New­ton led the morn­ing’s In­spi­ra­tional Hour, af­ter which Michael

Shane Neal and Richard Or­mond shared an il­lus­trated con­ver­sa­tion about John Singer Sar­gent on the main stage. And last, but cer­tainly not least, the al­ways-en­ter­tain­ing Jef­frey Hein gave a demon­stra­tion on vi­su­al­iz­ing shape re­la­tion­ships and achiev­ing a like­ness even un­der the most chal­leng­ing sit­u­a­tions. And af­ter the clos­ing cer­e­monies, many at­ten­dees loaded into buses headed for the Na­tional Por­trait Gallery.


At the Por­trait So­ci­ety, we take ideas and feed­back from our mem­bers se­ri­ously. And for our 20th an­niver­sary a num­ber of new pro­grams were added to the sched­ule in re­sponse to sug­ges­tions made by our mem­bers over the years. This year, those es­pe­cially en­er­gized artists, who feel that four days just isn’t enough, were able to ar­rive a day early to par­tic­i­pate in one of three pre-con­fer­ence work­shops with Rob Lib­er­ace,

Michael Shane Neal or Mary Whyte. Ad­di­tion­ally, on Thurs­day and Fri­day night con­fer­ence-go­ers could at­tend free 2½-hour open draw­ing ses­sions where mod­els were pro­vided along with in­for­mal in­struc­tion by ro­tat­ing fac­ulty artists. I ad­mit, I ex­pected a mod­er­ate turnout for these ses­sions, be­cause of our al­ready packed sched­ule, but both nights the rooms were over­flow­ing with

artists, sketch­pads in hand and some of the most de­ter­mined and en­gaged ex­pres­sions I’ve ever seen—and once again, I was blown away by the artist’s per­pet­ual en­ergy to cre­ate.

It goes with­out say­ing that this event would not be pos­si­ble with­out the gen­er­ous do­na­tion of time and knowl­edge given by each our fac­ulty artists—many of whom re­turn year af­ter year. These in­cred­i­ble in­di­vid­u­als have helped to build and strengthen the Por­trait So­ci­ety com­mu­nity, and we would not be the or­ga­ni­za­tion that we are to­day with­out them. Our sin­cer­est thank you to our 2018 faulty: Les­lie Adams, Anna Rose Bain, Wende Ca­po­rale, Ju­dith Car­ducci, Rick Casali, Casey Childs, Michelle Du­n­away, Rose Frantzen, Daniel Ger­hartz, Daniel Greene, James Gur­ney, Jef­frey Hein, Quang Ho, Ed­ward Jonas, David Kas­san, Daniel Keys, Everett Ray­mond Kin­stler, Robert Lib­er­ace, Michael Shane Neal, Ricky Mu­jica, Paul New­ton, Richard Or­mond, Mario Robin­son, Mary Sauer, Bur­ton Sil­ver­man, Adri­enne Stein, Jen­nifer Welty, Dawn Whitelaw, El­iz­a­beth Zanzinger and Mary Whyte.


When in­di­vid­u­als come to­gether to form a com­mu­nity, they be­come some­thing greater than them­selves. In fact, the great­ness of a com­mu­nity is most ac­cu­rately mea­sured by the pas­sion and

com­mit­ment of its mem­bers. And once a year, it is my priv­i­lege to wit­ness the com­ing to­gether of this in­cred­i­ble com­mu­nity—to watch as our mem­bers sa­vor in the com­pany of old friends, de­light in the meet­ing of new ones, and to see them in­spire, sup­port and learn from one an­other.


For those of you won­der­ing if at­tend­ing our con­fer­ence is the right move for you, let me as­sure you it is! This short re­cap truly only scratches the sur­face of all that the Por­trait So­ci­ety con­fer­ence has to of­fer. Some of the things not men­tioned here to­day: port­fo­lio cri­tiques, artist book sign­ings, silent auc­tions, prize draw­ings, im­promptu paint-offs in the ho­tel lobby, and late night chats about art, life and the many ups and downs of the cre­ative process. If you’re look­ing for a com­mu­nity to grow with and share your suc­cesses and fail­ures—we want to be a part of that jour­ney. And if you al­ready have an ac­tive artis­tic “sup­port sys­tem,” then come share your knowl­edge and those ex­pe­ri­ences with others. Next year’s con­fer­ence will take place from April 25-28 in At­lanta, Ge­or­gia, and reg­is­tra­tion is al­ready open. I hope to see you all there!


71. At­ten­dees from the 20th an­niver­sary con­fer­ence marked a his­toric mo­ment. 2. New pro­grams added this year—the pre-con­fer­ence work­shops fea­tur­ing Michael Shane Neal, Mary Whyte and Robert Lib­er­ace—sold out quickly. 3. The im­mensely pop­u­lar Face-off event show­cased 18 artists demon­strat­ing si­mul­ta­ne­ously in the Grand Ball­room. 4. For the open­ing demo, Anna Rose Bain and Quang Ho painted side by side and de­scribed their alla prima ap­proach. 5. Rose Frantzen and Robert Lib­er­ace kept a stand­ing room-only au­di­ence en­gaged with their demon­stra­tion de­pict­ing the nude fig­ure. 6. The free draw­ing stu­dio, of­fered Thurs­day and Fri­day evenings, were well at­tended and ap­pre­ci­ated. 7. James Gur­ney, one of our most pop­u­lar pre­sen­ters, gave an eye-open­ing pre­sen­ta­tion on com­po­si­tion and eye track­ing. 8. In­ter­pret­ing the same sub­ject, Michelle Du­n­away and Daniel Keys demon­strated their own unique per­spec­tives.













15 9. Everett Ray­mond Kin­stler gave a vis­ual tour of the many no­table paint­ings in the col­lec­tion of the Play­ers Club in New York City. 10. The ever-pop­u­lar 6x9 Mys­tery Art Sale raised $25,000 for the Por­trait So­ci­ety schol­ar­ship pro­gram. 11. A panel of lead­ing artists ad­dressed au­di­ence ques­tions in Vary­ing View­points, pre­sented by the Ce­cilia Beaux Fo­rum. 12. At­ten­dees were treated to an on-stage con­ver­sa­tion be­tween Michael Shane Neal and John Singer Sar­gent’s grand­nephew Richard Or­mond. 13. Sun­day morn­ing fea­tured Jef­frey Hein as he demon­strated how to achieve a like­ness. 14. Dan Ger­hartz demon­strated his ap­proach to build­ing form with a paint­ing demon­stra­tion. 15. Selected from 2,735 en­tries, the 24 In­ter­na­tional Por­trait Com­pe­ti­tion fi­nal­ists stood to­gether to re­ceive spe­cial recog­ni­tion on the main stage.

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